Faster beats louder

DAVE CAMERON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:51 PM ET

 It's always nice to have someone to blame, isn't it?

 It was my buddy's fault. (He's a Flames fan.)

 "Somewhere loud. Somewhere rockin'. "

 So that's where we went to watch Game 1 of the finals.

 Somewhere too freakin' loud.

 Somewhere that the line between sports bar and rock bar got blurred.

 I won't name the name because the grub was good, at least.

 Indulge me because I used to eke out a living making rock bands and country bands heard over the naturally occurring loudness of people eating, drinking and being merry. The immediate answer has always been to make your noise louder than their noise.

 It's the wrong answer.

 Bigger is not always better.

 I've never heard Hockey Night in Canada so loud.

 So loud you couldn't understand a word Bob Cole was saying. So loud you couldn't understand a word DON CHERRY WAS SAYING!

 Did you ever think that anything could be too loud to hear Don Cherry?

 Or maybe I couldn't hear because I was yelling at the waitress. Or she at us. "A round of what?"

 - - -

 Fortunately the screen was huge. Because the hockey was huge. The two teams voted the least likely to attract a wide-ranging audience put on the best display of high-speed Stanley Cup hockey since at least the 1994 Rangers-Canucks series. Back when Mark Messier still had some hair. Back when Pavel Bure could still skate. Back when Harry Neale was still funny.

 Not the greatest display of hockey, period, Game 1, but a great display of the tempo at which the game should be played.

 (Until the referees intervened for Game 2.)

 Incidentally, as you would expect, Hockey Night in Canada had their best numbers in years for Game 1.

 And those for Hockey Night Not In Canada were brutal. No wonder NBC ponied up a six-pack and a carton of smokes for the NHL's broadcast rights in the U.S.

 - - -

 This remains a troubled town. I'm still getting e-mails two weeks after writing about the Flames fan/Oilers fans phenomenon.

 Yesterday, Al Stafford on CHED - while filling in for the Sports Hall of Hair Fame guy - conducted an on-air clinic for those lost souls feeling the urge to carry Flaming "C" flags.

 - - -

 I have to agree with with Mike Golic of ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning: Gary Bettman, please shut up!

 (Most everything Golic says ends with a "!")

 That's been a common refrain in Canada for years, of course, but Golic was right in saying that this is hockey's showcase, the annual chance at selling the game in the U.S., so now is not the time to be blabbering on during a between-periods interview about the doom and gloom of the game's economics.

 Save it for later, corporate boy.

 Shut up and do something about the refereeing.

 - - -

 Not that I disagree with Bettman.

 Anyone who thinks this series proves that, yes, small-market, low-budget teams CAN win, just doesn't get it.

 They can win now.

 But can they keep a team together and give it another shot? Or even be any good? See Hurricanes, Carolina.

 They're low-budget now. But wait until the owners of the Rangers, Flyers and Wings start getting itchy contract fingers.

 - - -

 As for any media type that whines about fans in sunny, southern Florida being undeserving of having a Stanley Cup final - as opposed to the live-and-diehards in a place like Calgary - those are usually the ones that didn't get to make the expense-paid trip to sunny, southern Florida to cover the injustice of it all.

 - - -

 To put words in the mouth of the Great Tortellini: Holy son of Elvis, Bettman! How can we stop that No. 12!?!

 Just like Elvis - I mean, THAT Elvis - our boy Iggy has learned how to grab that spotlight and shine, baby, shine.


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